Feminism and American Literary History: Essays

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Rutgers University Press, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 267 pages
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Bodies may be currently fashionable in social and feminist theory, but their insides are not. Biological bodies always seem to drop out of debates about the body and its importance in Western culture. They are assumed to be fixed, their workings uninteresting or irrelevant to theory. Birke argues that these static views of biology do not serve feminist politics well. As a trained biologist, she uses ideas in anatomy and physiology to develop the feminist view that the biological body is socially and culturally constructed. She rejects the assumption that the body's functioning is somehow fixed and unchanging, claiming that biological science offers more than just a deterministic narrative of 'how nature works'. Feminism and the Biological Body puts biological science and feminist theory together and suggests that we need a politics which includes, rather than denies, our bodily flesh.
 

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Contents

Indian Stories
19
Speculation
36
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
71
of American Women Writers Writing History
105
of History
121
Millennialism
136
Reinventing Lydia Sigourney
151
Sarah Hale Political Writer
167
The Myth of the Myth of Southern Womanhood
183
Why I Dont Do Feminist
199
Feminism and the Teaching
214
Notes
233
Index
261
Copyright

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About the author (1992)

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1936 and educated at Cornell University and Harvard, literary critic Nina Baym's career revolves around what she considers to be the necessary project of making the minor nineteenth-century American women writers a subject of literary study. Noting that theories of nineteenth-century American literature tended to exclude women, Baym centers not only on the works of women writers, but on the question of major versus minor authors, and the contexts of authorship. A recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship (1975-76) and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1982-83), Baym teaches at the University of Illinois.

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